BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - An autopsy confirms that Father Joe Moreno, a beloved leader of Buffalo's Catholics, took his own life in his parish rectory this weekend.
Sources close to the priest say he had become depressed after learning of his reassignment. The Diocese won't say why Father Moreno was being reassigned, only that it's not an unusual occurrence. His reassignment was just days away and he was to be moved to minister at a hospital or nursing home according to Kevin Keenan, a spokesman for the Diocese of Buffalo.
Keenan said, "No final decision had been made, but they were certainly very close and the bishop had a couple of options he was examining."
He says says Father Moreno had a positive conversation with Bishop Richard Malone about the next move in his career, after admitting there was a mistake made in the notification process.
"There was a clerical error and a letter did arrive before he was officially notified. And that's part of what he and Bishop Malone talked about last Tuesday. the bishop opened up that meeting and apologized to Father Joe," Keenan explained.
Father Moreno's reassignment came as a result of Deacon Paul and Mary Weisenburger's retirement. But since his untimely death, the deacons will stay in their position to help the parish heal.
Father Moreno was a pillar in his Catholic community. So why did the bishop who just started in the Diocese decide to move the beloved priest?
"How shall I answer this? The bishop was reassigning Father Joe...that happens all the time. Priests are reassigned from one parish to another and that's the process," Keenan said.
It's a process, sources say, that could be to blame for the loss of a man, loved by so many. Father Francis Mazur had been appointed to take over for Father Moreno before Moreno's suicide, but that appointment has since been rescinded.
Father Moreno will receive a full Mass of Christian Burial.
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